As the Chicago Bears begin their training camp this week, we’re taking a look at the positional battles that are likely going to develop on the practice fields of Bourbonnais.
Today, we’re taking a look at the team’s wide receivers.
The Bears will bring back their top two wide receivers from a season ago, as Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson II will both be back on the field for Chicago in the coming season. Add second-year slot receiver Anthony Miller into the mix, and there's plenty of continuity from a group that was one of the deepest the Bears have had at the position in recent memory.
A big free agent signing before the season, Robinson appeared in 13 games for the Bears and racked up an impressive 94 targets, catching 55 passes for 754 yards and four touchdowns.
Gabriel also came over in free agency and had a 67-catch season, his most since 2014, and went off for 688 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Bears.
Both of their positions as starters are safe, even with Miller and rookie wideout Riley Ridley in the fold for the coming year.
In all likelhihood the Bears will go with a total of four reserve receivers, with Cordarrelle Patterson and Ridley highlighting the new additions to the group.
Patterson will undoubtedly provide a dual-threat speed weapon that Matt Nagy will relish using, able to take carries out of the backfield and use his stellar speed to evade tacklers and rack up big chunks of yardage.
As for Ridley, his role is slightly less clear, as he's already dealing with a leg injury, but looking at his collegiate career, he will likely get some reps in four wide receiver sets for the Bears and could even line up wide if Gabriel or Robinson needs plays off during a length drive.
His athleticism should be a good weapon in a Bears offense that is growing increasingly faster.
The Odd Men Out:
With those five wide receivers likely locked in, the battle for the sixth, and seventh if it's available, jobs could be fierce. Taquan Mizzell Sr. is back to compete for a job at the position, as are Tanner Gentry and Javon Wims.
At this point, it's anybody's guess as to which of the players will make it, but if we were forced to wager on it, then Wims will likely have the inside track, with his two competitors close behind.
For more of NBC Chicago's coverage of the Bears' position battles: